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GamelogoBy Australian Ninja

Remnants & Relics. Buttonhole *Special* Feature

Welcome dear reader to Remnants & Relics, the first in an ongoing series of features looking back at various aspects of yesterday's video games. This series is one that I'd hoped to kick off many months ago, but I just haven't had the time to do it justice, until now. So consider this your opportunity to put on your best pair or rose-tinted glasses, open up a luke-warm can of clichés and prepare to hop aboard the way-back-machine.... It came from beyond two dimensions! -A Look Back at Isometric Gaming-

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ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

ACMI Day Tripper

Welcome Buttonhole readers to another feature that is so choc-full of goodness that I've divided it into several sections. The top half is about the Indy video games showcased at ACMI. The bottom half is about the Pixar exhibit. It's ridiculously long and all terribly interesting to read, so you may as well read it in two halves, or just the parts that interest you. After reading about the ACMI exhibits on their website and getting more than a little excited, I decided to make the perilous trek to inner Melbourne. With time on my side and money stuffed in my pocket I ventured forth to the train station. Once on board I passed the time by staring out the window, reading a volume of Dark Horse's Concrete and snacking on tasty fruit. Arriving at Flinders St, I wandered around until inevitably finding my way out of the rat-maze like station.

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ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

Classic Comic-book Review. Kraven's Last Hunt

"Here lies Spider-Man - Slain by the Hunter" So reads the grave of one of histories greatest superheros. "But he's not dead, is he? What happened to everyone's favourite web-slinger? Spidey seems to be alive and well now, what with his three movie deal and a string of monthly Marvel comic-book titles to his name, so why was he buried six feet under? The year is 1987. The company is Marvel. The character is Sergei Kravinov also known as 'Kraven the Hunter.' Back in the 60's Stan and Steve (Lee and Ditko, respectively) churned out a heap of cool villains for the title "Amazing Spider-Man." Doctor Octopus, The Cham

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Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 PS2 box War is hell on PlayStation 2! Double Review

Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 and Full Spectrum Warrior

Publisher: Ubisoft and THQ

Mon, 6 June 2005

Sammy by: Hillelman

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In the real world (mind you, I don't spend too much time there myself), War is no kind of good, right? Pretty much everyone who visits our site knows that (I hope). In videogame form though, war can be a whole lot of fun. Buttonhole recently received the PlayStation 2 versions of two war-related games: Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 (from Ubisoft) and Full Spectrum Warrior (from THQ), both of which use a first person viewpoint. The two games are also both a little bit different to the run of the mill FPS war games out there, so let's take a look at 'em, beginning with Brothers in Arms.

This is completely against how you are supposed to start a review but, well, that's how I like to do things, so let's go for it; I really didn't expect to like Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 (hereon to be referred to as RTH 30). I'm well and truly over World War 2 themed games and I am just getting really tired of the FPS genre as a whole. Still, you should never dismiss things without checking them out first, so I gave the game a chance. I'm glad I did too, because it is pretty darn good.

What sucked me in first was the story. Sure, it is pretty familiar stuff, but it starts off well told and cleverly paced and it remains that way throughout the game. This is backed up by some very consistent and convincing voice-acting. I found myself keen to learn more about the characters and see what would happen next, so that helped make the experience an engaging one.

On top of that, it is all true! The character you play as, Sgt. Matt Baker is based on a real life bloke by the same name, as are the other characters. The missions in the game are based on the actual missions these men really went through. That certainly adds to the authenticity of the game and gives it all a bigger sense of drama. These extraordinary situations you are playing through are things that real people experienced. Playing from the comfort of your home you can be thankful that, for you, it is all just a game.

Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 PS2 screenshot 1
I dropped my keys somewhere in this area
The other most notable aspect of RTH 30 is that the gameplay is not the more standard 'one man against the world' style of the majority of these kinds of games (in the single player modes at least). Instead you have to closely work with your fellow soldiers (that's where the Brothers in Arms part of the game's title fits in) and consider the best ways to command your men in order to negotiate the predicaments you find yourselves in. In a real war, you'd rarely expect to see one guy running around taking out the entire opposing army by himself like Rambo on (even more) steroids. Good strategy and teamwork is required and that is reflected quite well in RTH 30.

You issue commands to your squad mates, telling them to take refuge or cover you while you get into better position and things like that. You can also get them to cook you some eggs and grab you another beer from the fridge. Ok, I made that last part up. The strategy elements mostly work pretty nicely and really do make the game feel more realistic and rewarding.

You're trigger finger won't be forgotten though; there's a lot of shooting action involved too. So, if you are more inclined to just want to let out some frustration on a bunch of virtual Nazi bastards, there's plenty of that included for you as well.

The game has a good amount of variety and should last most players quite a while, so it is certainly worthy of rental and potentially (especially if you are into the war themes) a purchase. While the graphics can be a bit blurry at times, as a whole they do a reasonable job of things. The PS2 version is actually the weakest one out there. If you have an Xbox or PC you should get the version of RTH 30 for one of them over the PS2 port. The PlayStation 2 game has lesser graphics and a few other things that aren't quite up to the standard of the game running on the other systems. There can be some frustration with the AI playing up and other little niggles as well, but I never found those problems too awful. So, if the PS2 is your only gaming option, that's cool; Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 is still a good game.

Go ahead and follow in Sgt. Baker's footsteps and if you're anything like me you'll end up getting sucked right in. Once you are done with the single player game, there's online support and the interesting tactical multi-player games should keep you enthralled for quite some time.

The story of the game and the interesting new gameplay elements were enough for me to recommend this one. I score it a solid 8 out of 11 buttons.

Full Spectrum Warrior PlayStation cover
Full Spectrum Warrior is another port of a game that first
appeared on the Xbox and PC. As with the game above, this is the weakest version available (in this case it is a little less graphically detailed and smooth, which is not a huge deal), but still good enough to warrant some attention if you only have Sony's console.

Can you fight a war without ever pulling a trigger? Sure you can, you just instruct other people to do the shooting for you. That's basically what you do in Full Spectrum Warrior, which apparently is adapted from an actual military training program. Rather than controlling an individual character, you have a team of soldiers and you have to guide them, like they were puppets and you held the strings. Order the men to take cover, go over there, shoot that dude in the head and so on. Despite using the first person view, Full Spectrum Warrior plays more like a strategy/puzzle game than a regular FPS. You ought to give it a try though, because once you get into it you might find it compelling, trying to figure out how to progress from place to place.

The game starts off with a training course and this is an excellent way to familiarize the player with Full Spectrum Warrior's gameplay and mechanics. Here you will learn how to use the troops effectively and all the nuances of making the best use of cover, using suppressive fire, blowing things up with grenades and all that kind of caper. This training, and the whole game for that matter, has a very authentic military feel going on. The characters in the game are all presented with their own distinctive personalities too, though it all feels rather cliched. The war campaign itself is set in a fictional country, but I'm sure it is no accident that the place looks exactly like Iraq. If you have a mind for the army and you like movies such as Black Hawk Down you should find it all most appealing.

Graphically, despite being (as I mentioned) less detailed than the other versions and suffering from a rather uneven frame rate, the game still manages to be quite impressive. There's some very good animation and the character models and environments have a realistic look about them. The sound effects and voices are all well done too.

Full Spectrum Screen 1A
I told you not to park in that handicap space

Full Spectrum Warrior requires a great deal of patience and the game can be highly frustrating. So if you are looking for some quick thrills, or you crack the shits easily, this won't be one for you. You will find yourself stuck at numerous times as the situations in the game get ever more complex. Getting into a stalemate where neither you nor the enemy has an advantage can be a real pain and that happens fairly often.

The other problem with the game is that before too long it all becomes quite repetitious. There's very little variety in the missions, with the same basic patterns and tasks being required over and over again. Before it gets to that stage though, the game is quite fun and even after the repetition sets in it remains rewarding when you get past some of the trickier parts. You can play Full Spectrum Warrior online too, which would no doubt extend the lifespan of the game. I haven't tried the multi-player side of the game though, so I'm unable to tell you just how well that works. Even so, multi-player features are always a welcome addition.

The appeal of this game is less wide reaching than for Brothers in Arms, because it just one of those kinds of games that some people are going to enjoy and others won't. So I'd suggest renting Full Spectrum Warrior first for most gamers. There's a sequel on the way and I am interested to see how it turns out, because the first one has shown a lot of potential already.

by: Hillelman

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More articles by Hillelman

There's plenty to like about Full Spectrum Warrior and I am always glad to see a game that is offering an experience that isn't exactly the same as 10 thousand other titles

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More Games

Press Release. Haze 4 Player Demo Availabe Soon.
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Pong designer Al Alcorn to give free talk at ACMI.
eGames and Entertainment expo '07 Report
Win a complimentary ticket to ACMI's "Game On"

Which of the following game genres do you like the most?
Role Playing
First Person Shooters
Adventure/Action (includes platformers)

ToonlogoBy Borgieman

Manifest '07 Report

Ninja's note: Once again, it's time for another Buttonhole report on the Melbourne Anime Festival, otherwise known as Manifest 2007. If you missed Ichibod's feature on a previous Manifest, check it out here. This Manifest coverage comes to you courtesy of forum regular and newest Buttonhole contributor Borgieman, a cool guy who knows his Anime and has been known to play a video game or two. So read on true believers! A Day at Manifest 2007

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ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

Only Yesterday. Anime Review

The problem with having favourite films is that every time I watch another Studio Ghibli film it becomes my new favourite. It kind of renders the word 'favourite' meaningless when every Studio Ghibli film takes my breath away. Still, I can't complain about being thoroughly entertained by this whimsical and insightful film, "Only Yesterday". This gem was directed by Isao Takahata, well known for his anime film Grave of the Fireflies. Although Only Yesterday is a light hearted film that ambles along at a leisurely pace, it still manages to explore themes such as love, work, family relationship struggles, following your dreams and country versus city living. In the film, the main character Taeko decides to take a working vacation in the country, getting away from her office bound job and unexpectedly starts t

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ToonlogoBy Jason

Speed Grapher V1. Anime Review

Well, "I don't like it" was my initial feeling when viewing this Anime for the first time. Subsequent viewings haven't changed my views a great deal. Nothing really stands out as being absolute shit but it seems that this series tries too hard. It's almost like they were more interested in creating something 'edgy' and confronting but sadly forgot to include an even remotely palatable story. The hero of this particular piece is a bloke called Tatsumi Saiga. Tatsumi is a photographer and a veteran war journalist for whom taking photos has become somewhat of a fetish. Although he seems to have become jaded - nothing is worth wasting his film on - that is, at least until he stumbles across an exclusive club for the mega rich

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